The Old Ladies Detective Club
August 2 looked like it would be a catastrophe, given the clues that Jane had found tucked into the pages of the Emily Dickenson poetry book. We thought perhaps it was an opportune time to re-activate, or should I say re-convene “The Old Ladies Detective Club.” Actually, we had never gotten off the ground with the club, but why not now, seeing as Jane had found her lucky hat with what she called her “Dodo” feather dyed purple. I guess she called it that so no one could accuse her of stealing an endangered peacock feather, because she gets embarrassed even though none of us, not even Marsha, who had been to Woodstock chasing the cute guys for their free love, ever fell for that endangered species crap. We recycle notions and hats, but the wine bottles can go down the chute with the Edison light bulbs. What the hell, we need to have some sins besides Nigel, Ralph and James, but that’s another story.
When Jane summoned us to the Bookstore Café on Crosby Street around 5pm we were barely able to find a table on the main floor. When Marsha and I arrived, Jane was sitting down at the last table with a knish, a coffee, and the poetry book in question.
Marsha had said, “Where’d you find it?”
“Y’know, on the second floor balcony in the Poetry section under ‘D’,” sighed Jane wanting to get on with it. “Look, these bookmark papers are notes for a suicide pact.”
“Whaaat?” Marsha and I shouted. Everyone who was standing and hovering around looked at us probably thinking, ‘could these old nutty ladies give up their table ’cause this should be for the hip youth,’ or whatever the kids say nowadays.
“Well, um…,” Jane flubbed around her more usual eloquence.
We grabbed the papers out of her hand that she had unfolded. It looked like notes for a suicide pact. “Shouldn’t we stop them, whoever they are?” I said, grabbing one of the scraps.
“It’s just rambling philosophy,” said Jane suddenly changing her mind about the importance of her discovery.
“Well, just some of it…bet you couldn’t answer this scribble in the side margin,” I said.
“Oh yeah,” said Marsha, “What?”
“What’s a trillion dollars?” I said trying to hype the notes and make it more than just a discussion of math and economics on a perfectly innocent plane.
Marsha said, “Um, I never got past a million in my imagination…”
Well, I said, “If I had a million dollars on this table, we’d have to have space for a million such tables to have a trillion dollars laid out.”
“Uh, ha,” said Jane. “You have a million dollars? Put it on the table and we can go to Las Vegas right now…”
Marsha grabbed the papers to read while Jane and I bantered like peahens cocking their heads looking for a peacock, and there were certainly a lot of cute guys roaming around with books trying to look unbookish. If we had a million dollars then…
“First,” I said, “get us a million tables…”
“Yeah,” said Jane finishing her knish like there was a potato famine, “that’s the thing: how much of this is fantasy and musing, and how much is real?”
Marsha jumped in. “OK. I see we’re avoiding the main nut of it — this piece here,” she said. “Um, listen: ‘Dear Kathleen, Sorry for the letter but I don’t have a computer. I saw on CBS news that the President is not going to issue Social Security checks after August 2 no matter what unless he can raise taxes on Millionaires(everybody making $250,000 or more). He’s already taken my Medicare down to hell. Forget the damn pain pills and get me some pot or something. Hey girls, I say, sell all the silverware and the gold jewelry and let’s go to Las Vegas. We’ll bet everything on August 2. If we lose, we’ll go out into the desert and have a picnic under the stars. I’ve saved some drugs from my collection and we could see the stars and die quickly. I’ve heard you can see the heavens from the desert. We’ve had a long life and why wait for Armageddon? The Grandkids don’t care about us and anyway, they know everything about computer money video games, and it’s Greek to me anyway as Shakespeare said. No need to make them pay for us. We could do them a favor and go quickly while we can still think clearly.’ ”
“It’s just musing,” I said, “but why don’t we go to Las Vegas on August 2, because, you know, actually, it is hopeless. Isn’t it?”
Jane pulled her little gun from her bag and said,”Remember the movie, ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ ”
Marsha screamed, “Be careful with that thing. Don’t be silly.” But the gun went off.
Marsha is dead and so is Jane. It’s a mystery that I’m still alive considering that Armageddon awaits and I’m not optimistic even though I grabbed Jane’s hat and got out the door before the police came. It’s a shame that we could never get the “Old Ladies Detective Club” off the ground. Not everyone is clever enough to survive in a mild mannered maneuver. Oh well. I’ll go to Las Vegas by myself and look for the girls looking at the stars. Maybe I’ll find a cute millionaire.